Could Giant Catfish Be Responsible for Reports of the Loch Ness Monster?
Besides Bigfoot and the Yeti, the Loch Ness Monster is one of the world’s most famous criptids. For over eighty years, locals and visitors to the Loch, which is nestled in the Highlands of Scotland, have reported sighting a large creature that has been described as looking like everything, from a sea serpent to a dragon. It is a common belief by some cryptozoologists that the Loch Ness Monster could be a family of plesiosaurs, which somehow escaped the mass extinction of the Cretaceous-Tertiary period and is trapped in the loch.
Of course, the chances of dinosaurs having survived 65 million years and living and breeding in a Scottish loch are extreme to say the least, especially, as the loch is one of Scotland’s most visited natural beauty spots and the only evidence for the monster’s existence are grainy photographs and shaky videos. However, despite claims that the whole thing is made up by the locals to boost tourism, reports of the monster won’t go away, and these are not just the ramblings of people prone to hysteria. Sightings from all sorts of people, from chief constables to doctors, have been reported over the last eighty years, and most people living near the loch are convinced something is down there.
Loch Ness is not the only Scottish Loch that has its monster. In fact, virtually all Scottish lochs have some legend of a monster attached to them, as do many great lakes and bodies of inland water across the globe. However, “Nessie” is by far the most famous, but if she is not a survivor from the age of the dinosaurs, then what else could be causing all the reports?
Existing evidence, such as photographs and videos, has always proved inconclusive. The most famous picture of Nessie, the so-called Surgeon’s Photograph, which showed a long-necked beast rising out of the water (and probably gave rise to the plesiosaur theory), was proved a fake, and other pictures and videos either have been of too low quality or have come from dubious sources to make any reasonable assessment. However, one thing is clear, with sightings spanning from the 1930s to the present day, there is definitely something at Loch Ness, and while little proof exists in photographic or video form, the age of the first reports could hold the key as to what Nessie could actually be.
The first reported sightings of a monster in Loch Ness occurred in the early 1930s. In fact, the 1930s was Nessie fever with all sorts of sightings and pictures (including the infamous “Surgeon’s Photograph”) continually appearing in the national press of the UK. Perhaps the question should be asked, as to what was so significant about the 1930s, and could the secret of Nessie tie into an event that happened fifty years earlier?
The UK has an abundance of fish, some of which grow to a fairly large sizes, such as the pike and carp. Britain also has several indigenous species of catfish in its lakes and rivers, but most of these never grow past a few feet. However, in 1880, the wels catfish, one of the largest species of catfish in the world, was introduced into the waterways of Great Britain for anglers amusement, and has continuously been stocked both legally and illegally ever since. In its native Russia, adult wels of around forty to fifty years old, can grow up to 300lb, and reach 15 feet in length, making them a truly monstrous river fish. Therefore, perhaps the introduction of the wels catfish to Scottish lochs in the late nineteenth century, which were allowed to mature and grow to monstrous sizes, could be responsible for the reported sightings of Nessie fifty years later.
Kali River goonch
If the wels is responsible, it certainly wouldn’t be an isolated case. Large catfish have been responsible, not just for monster sightings across the globe, but also for actual attacks on people. In the Kali river of India and Nepal, between 1998 and 2007, reports of a giant river creature attacking and actually devouring swimmers were reported in both the national and international media.
Several investigations conducted by documentary crews, including British biologist Jeremy Wade, discovered the culprit was a large species of catfish, known as the goonch, which had grown to be over 200lbs. While goonch don’t normally grow so large or attack humans, it was discovered that the local people of India and Nepal burned their dead in funeral pyres along the riverbanks of the Kali. It was concluded, that the goonch were feeding on the half burnt human remains, enabling them to grow far larger than their normal diet would have permitted, making them large enough to attack human swimmers.
Of course, the people of Scotland don’t have funeral pyres along the banks of Loch Ness, but the wels catfish is a known scavenger and will eat anything, from fish to waterfowl, of which there is an abundance on the loch. While the idea of a dinosaur trapped for 65 million years (which would have been 64 million years before Loch Ness formed) in a Scottish Loch may be a romantic one, the true Loch Ness monster may be something as simple as a family of large wels catfish. However, if the Kali goonch attacks are anything to go on, this makes Nessie no less a frightening monster.
|Wels catfish Silurus glanis|
Lisa Hardcastle is a freelance writer from England who writes on behalf of many organic producers, from ethical coffee farms to eco clothing stores, and is an expert in the latex vs. memory foam matress debate.
I should mention that Lisa supplies her own sponsor's links and I approve them. In the case of Loch Ness, the Atlantic sturgeon (recently mentioned in another posting on this blog) is more usually selected as a suspect for causing "Nessie" sightings, but there is nothing which prevents either fish or both being present at Loch Ness, either at different times or both together. And there is nothing which says that giant eels of approximately similar size could not be there in the place of one or the other, once you have established that point.
Best Wishes, Dale D.